There wasn't much of anything for kids to do in Blairstown during the winter months, according to Susanne Rostkowski.
So she and her husband Kevin decided it was within their means to do something about that.
The couple own Portable Rink Systems LLC in Blairstown Township. The industrial refrigeration business services ice rinks in New Jersey and surrounding areas.
Last spring, they purchased an ice rink that had gone out of business, so with equipment on hand and plenty of know-how, they approached Blairstown Township committee members with a plan to build an outdoor ice skating rink on an open grass field in Sycamore Park, off Lambert Road.
The Rostkowskis told the committee that the township would bear no costs and that safety would be a high priority. Best of all, folks could show up to skate for free.
With a nod from the township and equipment on hand, the 85-by-100-feet oval RINX at Sycamore Park was built and opened in December. It is operated by a 120-ton Trane chiller with four compressors pumping R-22 refrigerant to keep the ice at 15 degrees.
The Rostkowskis even supplied more than 400 pairs of skates that also were part of the old ice rink purchase. Skaters can borrow them free of charge.
The rink, one of only three outdoor rinks in New Jersey, is maintained by the Rostkowskis along with some North Warren Regional High School students who they employ to help run it and a small concession stand.
Since the rink opened, Susanne Rostkowski says it has received lots of support.
"The town has come out to support it," she said. "It's been unbelievable. We've had skaters from 4 years old to people who haven't been on the ice for 30 years."
For now, the Rostkowskis are bearing all the expenses for the rink, including paying their employees. Although they are spending all their spare time there, Susanne Rostkowski is quick to pay compliments to the high school students who are working.
"They arrive early and are quick to help out with whatever we need," she said.
Aside from concession and skate use help, there are two skate guards on the ice at all times to assure safety, she said.
The rink is open to anyone who wants to put on skates and give it a whirl. Regular hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Susanne Rostkowski said they are hoping for colder weather so they can take out the Zamboni. Yes, they have their own Zamboni, and "all the kids are waiting to see that," she said.
As for whether the rink will make money some day, she says she and Kevin aren't too worried about that.
"If we get it to the where it pays its expenses, that would be good," she said.
Sycamore Park is located at 26 Lambert Road in the Warren County community.